The first round of competition for the new five-year federal Head Start grants ended Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announcement of 153 winners, including 16 in California. Of the California winners, four of them have long held Head Start grants but were required to re-apply for their funding as part of a new program meant to raise quality and accountability in the federally funded preschool and early child care program for low-income families.

This is the first time in the history of Head Start when grantees whose programs did not meet certain quality standards in federal inspections were required to reapply for their funding and to compete with new applicants for the available funds. Grantees, mostly nonprofits and school systems, had been receiving pro forma grant renewals for decades.

The biggest shake-up in the state will be in Los Angeles County where the Los Angeles County Office of Education, previously the largest Head Start grantee in the country, will lose a portion of its grant to 11 new agencies. The Health and Human Services department announced even more new agencies in April, but after completing negotiations with all the agencies, the final list for L.A. County is down to 12 providers who qualified for grants.

Other grantees are based in Contra Costa County, San Mateo County and the Marysville area.

Lillian Mongeau covers early childhood education. Contact her or follow her @lrmongeau.

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